From the Pulpit: Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday 2017 April 16, 2017

Introduction
There is always hope. Because of Easter there is hope for every single person in the entire world.
• By his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has overcome death with life.
• Because of his resurrection sin and evil have been vanquished.
• Easter is the fulfillment of the deepest longings of the human spirit.
• Easter fulfills all of the hopes of the human family.
• Easter proclaims that everything Jesus said and did is really true.
• Jesus has been vindicated!
• God has Triumphed!
• Think of it this way, God won!

Whatever Jesus told his followers about his death and resurrection was simply not enough to prepare them for the reality of Easter Sunday morning.
• On that Friday afternoon, their hopes and expectations melted away as they saw him slowly put to death in the anguish of crucifixion.
• For them, this should not have happened. It should not have ended this way.
• Their anticipation of Jesus as Messiah slowly gave way to fear.
• John tells us in his gospel that they were cowering in fear of the Roman authorities.

Then there is Easter Sunday morning.
• Their initial experience of that morning left them baffled.
• Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found it empty.
• Fearfully she came to the disciples with the strange message,” they have taken the Lord away. I do not know where they put him.”
• Peter and the other disciples ran to the tomb and are totally clueless. Their first inclination is that the stone has been rolled back and the body taken.
• Once they come to the tomb, they see that the burial cloth is lying on the ground and the cloth which surrounded his head neatly folded and set aside.
• They don’t know what to make of this.

The story of resurrection
Remember the events of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection.
• He was handed over by Judas; Peter betrayed him not once, but three times.
• Jesus stood alone before Pontius Pilate.
• The soldiers whipped and crowned him with thorns.
• The crowd cried out, “crucify him. Crucify him.”
• Jesus died alone on the cross, while his followers hid in fear.

Then something fantastic and unbelievable happened.
• Breathlessly, Mary Magdalene crashed through the doors of the upper room and announced, “I have seen the Lord!”
• From that moment on human history would never be the same.
• That singular proclamation and event would change the entire world. Human lives would be changed.
• Nothing would ever be the same. The incredible happened! Jesus rose from the dead.

The Gospels are clear that this is not a resuscitation; it was a resurrection.
• Yes, it was the same Jesus who preached, taught and cured. It was the same Jesus who died on the cross.
• It was the same physical body but it was very, very different.
• His existence and physical body had been raised to an entirely new level.

What happened?
Nobody really knows. There were no eyewitnesses to the resurrection.
• However, there is a burial cloth which many believe wrapped the body of Jesus. It is called the shroud of Turin.
• Perhaps it is the burial cloth mentioned in today’s Gospel.
• There still remains a great deal of discussion concerning its authenticity.
• Trying to account for the scorch marks that outline human figure as well as the stains of blood one atheist scientist who observed it made this remark, “The only way I can account for these phenomena is that to leave blood stains intact and produce this kind of image, the body must’ve somehow passed through the cloth itself.”

Application
Today is the day of resurrection.
• In our second reading, St. Paul proclaims, “seek the things that are above not what is below.”
• He says that the negative things that we all deal with – anger, lust, greed, deception, anxiety and fear – must be addressed with the healing power of Christ that comes from his resurrection.
• Easter reminds us that God has triumphed over evil, life has triumphed over death.
• Remember that as you look at the troubles and trials in your own life. Yes, each of us carries a cross of some kind.
• Some crosses are heavy and some are not. However, each of us has a cross to bear.
• There is always hope.
• The resurrection of Jesus empowers us to let God reign in our daily lives.

Invitation
Make this Easter the best Easter ever.
• Take a moment today before you leave Mass to invite Jesus into your heart.
• You can make this a new beginning.
• If you have experienced a distance from Jesus, do not fear!
• Tell him, “I want to make a new beginning. I invite you into my heart. Help me to change to become the person that you have called me to be. I want to live my life for you.”
• It’s never too late to invite Jesus in and begin to make the changes necessary to become the best version of yourself.
• You can become the person that Jesus wants you to be.
• That’s the power and promise of Easter and the resurrection.

Conclusion
Pope Francis put it this way, “Christian hope is a gift that God gives us if we come out of ourselves and open our hearts to him. Today is the celebration of our hope, the celebration of this truth; nothing and no one will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.”

“So, do not fear I know you were seeking Jesus the crucified, he is not here, he has been raised from the dead just as he said!”